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Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Aug 16;20(16). pii: E3982. doi: 10.3390/ijms20163982.

Exosomal L1CAM Stimulates Glioblastoma Cell Motility, Proliferation, and Invasiveness.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Delaware State University, Dover, DE 19901, USA.
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA.


Immunoglobulin superfamily protein L1CAM (L1, CD171) normally facilitates neuronal migration, differentiation, and axon guidance during development. Many types of cancers, including glioblastoma (GBM), also abnormally express L1, and this has been associated with poor prognosis due to increased cell proliferation, invasiveness, or metastasis. We showed previously that the soluble L1 ectodomain, which is proteolyzed from the transmembrane form, can stimulate proliferation and motility of GBM cells in vitro by acting through integrins and fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs). Minute L1-decorated exosomal vesicles also are released by GBM cells and potentially could stimulate cell motility, proliferation, and invasiveness, but this needed to be demonstrated. In the present study, we aimed to determine if minute L1-decorated extracellular vesicles (exosomes) were capable of stimulating GBM cell motility, proliferation, and invasiveness. L1-decorated exosomes were isolated from the conditioned media of the human T98G GBM cell line and were evaluated for their effects on the behavior of glioma cell lines and primary tumor cells. L1-decorated exosomes significantly increased cell velocity in the three human glioma cells tested (T98G/shL1, U-118 MG, and primary GBM cells) in a highly quantitative SuperScratch assay compared to L1-reduced exosomes from L1-attenuated T98G/shL1 cells. They also caused a marked increase in cell proliferation as determined by DNA cell cycle analysis and cell counting. In addition, L1-decorated exosomes facilitated initial GBM cell invasion when mixed with non-invasive T98G/shL1 cells in our chick embryo brain tumor model, whereas mixing with L1-reduced exosomes did not. Chemical inhibitors against focal adhesion kinase (FAK) and fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) decreased L1-mediated motility and proliferation to varying degrees. These novel data show that L1-decoratred exosomes stimulate motility, proliferation and invasion to influence GBM cell behavior, which adds to the complexity of how L1 stimulates cancer cells through not only soluble ectodomain but also through exosomes.


L1CAM; cell invasion; cell motility; exosomes; fibroblast growth factor receptor; focal adhesion kinase; glioblastoma

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